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Home visit program helps prevent waste of medicines: pharmacists

2010/09/22 23:12:54

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) A program launched in April by Taiwan'sBureau of National Health Insurance (NHI) has proved successful inreducing waste of the country's medical resources through home visitsby pharmacists to instruct patients how to take medicines correctly,the head of a pharmacists' association said Wednesday.

The home visit program, which covered 800 patients who had mademore than 200 annual visits or 20 monthly visits to hospitals, isexpected to help the NHI save at least NT$10 million in medical costsby the end of this year, said Lien Jui-meng, chairman of the TaiwanPharmacist Association.

Citing NHI statistics, Lien said that after an average 2.5 homevisits by pharmacists, the total number of those patients seekingmedical treatment has dropped by 24.3 percent.

In addition, the total cost for outpatient and inpatient medicalservice has decreased by 17. 4 percent, or NT$3.45 million, whichincludes NT$800,000 for medicines, he said.

The NHI plans to extend the home consultation services to 1,100patients by the end of this year, and to 5,000 people next year.

On their home visits, the pharmacists found that many patientsmake frequent visits to the doctor but fail to take medicines asprescribed, and end up piling up the drugs at home.

Although the program may not reduce medical costs significantlyin the short term, it will help change people's habits in the longrun, said Yang Ming-chin, chairman of the National Health InsuranceMedical Fee Agreement Commission.

Taiwan's national health care budget is expected to rise fromNT$480 billion (US$15 billion) this year to over NT$500 billion(US$15.85 billion) next year, with one fourth of the total coveringthe cost of medicines.By Chen Ching-Fang and Christie Chen)